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Veterans Reining In PTSD, Mental Health Issues With Horseback Riding

ANDOVER (CBS) - An innovative program in Andover is using horses to help veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues.

Held at Ironestone Farm, it has helped hundreds of veterans since its inception in 2013 by teaching them to horseback ride.

"You have to pay total attention. And so, that's exactly where the magic is. When you're paying total attention you don't get to think about what happened last year, what's going to happen tomorrow, what's going to happen 10 years from now or 20 years ago. All that stuff goes away," Veterans liaison Seamus Geary said.

Randy Lopez is one of the veterans who has benefited from the program. The Gulf War veteran suffers from schizophrenia. He says being with the horses helps him feel better.

"It makes me happy instead of feeling horrible all the time," Lopez said.

Ironstone is hoping to expand the program which currently meets only once a week or for one-day weekend retreats. Staff is hoping to raise money to renovate a farm house for a full time veterans program.

On September 17, a concert entitled "Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran Concert" will raise money for the program. It is being held by veterans' support group Veterans Assisting Veterans at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. For more information call 781-316-4486.

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